By Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — “I was sleeping and my daughter waked, knocked on my door. And the windows they were red, the fire was coming up.”
Dewen Bowah, her voice barely audible after a week of hospitalization for burns and other injuries, spoke exclusively to CBS 3’s Walt Hunter about the horrifying moments early on the morning of July 5th as fire tore through the Southwest Philadelphia home where she was asleep with her five children.
“I love them; I didn’t know what to do,” Bowah told Hunter.
But Bowah’s sister, Waday Seton, explained the children’s mother was a hero, first shepherding three of her daughters, 11-year-old twins and a 13-year-old, to a rear window, where they jumped to safety. Then, Bowah tried to save her four-year-old twins, Maria and Marialla, who were still trapped along with two other children.
Sadly, she could not make her way to the children, and after three of her daughters made it to safety, she jumped, suffering serious burn injuries.
“She is a hero, she fought for her children’s lives, she saved three children from that fire,” Mrs. Seton told Hunter.
Meanwhile, neighbor Milton Rusa says that after waking and seeing the flames, he raced to the rear window, calling on the children and their mother to jump to safety. The first was Naomi.
“Naomi opened the window,” Musa explained to Hunter. “I said, ‘Fire, fire!’ and she jumped out.”
Musa, who was also hospitalized with burns, used his body as a cushion, helping to save the plunging children.
“When she fell, I bent over. She landed right here on my back, that’s how I rescued them,” he said.
But as the flames spread, Mrs. Bowah, after guiding her three daughters to safety, was forced to jump herself, leaving her four-year-old twins and two other children, who perished in the fire, despite her brave efforts and those of her neighbor.
“I didn’t know what to do, I did not know what to do, really,” Mrs. Bowah repeated, as she was comforted by family members.
Still ahead, the agonizing task of planning funerals for the young victims.
As of now, fire officials say they have not determined the cause of the deadly three-alarm fire. Officials, including the Mayor, have appealed to anyone with information to please come forward.